Week 15 of the NASCAR iRacing Series headed to the fastest track on the calendar: Michigan International Speedway. With its highly banked turns and speeds of up to 210mph on the straights, Michigan would push the cars to their limit, with some drivers pushing them perhaps too far! The debate in the Open Series was ‘grill tape’ – how much? Using too much will damage the engine, however being too conservative would cost you pace in the race. Nick Furler and Benjamin Burmeister qualified with exactly the same time – 36.851s, showing how close the times were at such a high speed track such.
In the first Open Series online race of the week, Michael Conti scooped up 392 points from the 6099 SoF. Conti has seemed dominant in recent weeks in the NASCAR iRacing Series – his name always seems to be at the top of the results page, no matter the track. Casey Tucker was an incredible .068s behind Conti at this finish, a fingertip away from taking the win. Tucker still scored 379 points from the race, which could easily bump him up a few places in the standings. Kyle McCormick finished P3, just under half a second back from Conti, with Steven Eszenyi and Malik Ray applying the pressure for a podium finish.
The 5968 SoF of the second race brought points similar to Race One, with Thomas Lewandowski narrowly beating Conti to the win – denying Conti two race wins on the trot. “Narrowly beating Conti” is perhaps a bit understated – .010s was all that covered the two drivers after 100 laps of sim racing at Michigan International Speedway! Lewandowski lead 36 laps of the race, taking advantage of Ashley Miller and Corey Vincent when they dropped out the Top 10. Ray finished third, adding a further 357 points to his ‘Road to Pro’ campaign.
Vincent made up for his second race mishaps by leading the field of 30 simracers across the finishing line at the end of 100 laps in the third Open race of the week. Although Lewandowski captured the fastest lap of the race (37.098s), he couldn’t repeat the win he got earlier in the week. Chris Overland completed the top three, almost three whole seconds back from Vincent at the finish. Shane Miller finished fourth with Shane Dougherty (P5) getting a good result after having bad luck over the last few weeks.
In the first Fixed online race of the week at MIS, Kevin King secured the victory in the top split, closed followed by Jason Karlavige, with Karlavige splitting the Black Stripe drivers at the top end of the results. The top two led a number of similar laps – with King leading 42 and Karlavige out front for 49 of the 100 laps. Brian Day was close behind in third with Brandon Buie completing the top four, all within a second of King.
Race Two was a disastrous race for 95% of the field, with server issues resulting in Eric Hansard finishing 22 laps (or 33 miles!) ahead of the entire field in what must be a record for the NASCAR iRacing Series. Steffen Nobis managed to bring his virtual Chevy home second, a “mere two laps up on Manuel Sanchez. Matthew Blossom was the victor in the second split – with Bob Wells ahead of the rest in the Split 3.
In Race Three, we saw a familiar face reappear at the top of the timing sheet with Chad Laughton taking the win. Karlavige kept Laughton busy for a large part of the race, leading 54 laps. However he couldn’t convert his strong form to a win in the NASCAR iRacing Series. Jacob Herberts was half a second down of Laughton at the checkered in third, with Eke David and Kris Kelley rounding out your top five.
The final race of the week at Michigan produced a top split with a 4978 SoF (the second highest of the week) – however still allowing drivers aiming to grab the top spot in the Fixed Series to do so! After 57 laps in the lead, Thomas Davis drove his car into Victory Lane, driving well to keep Malik Ray behind him in the final laps. Pro Driver Brandon Chirburko finished third just over .5s behind Davis, with Matthew Moose holding position number four ahead of the omnipresent Karlavige.
There were to be no changes at the top of both standings, with Dwayne Vincent and Patrick Crabtree doing enough this week to maintain the leads in their respective series. In the Open series, Crabtree kept himself ahead of Steven Eszenyi – who demoted Malik Ray to third after some good points at Michigan. Crabtree still holds a 300 point lead over Eszenyi, with the points much closer throughout the bottom half of the Top 10. for example, Jordy Lopez Jr holds fourth, just two points clear of Greg McKinney – with 4179 points to his name.
Like Crabtree, Vincent scored well at Michigan to keep the buffer he has to Matt Bussa – this gap being also close to 300…. coincidence? I’ll leave that one up to you! Steven Gilbert in P3 is 140 points shy of Bussa, with another sizable gap back to Tyler Hudson in fourth (3103). Eric Hansard rounds out the top five in the Fixed Series, with just over 3000 points.
Sonoma Raceway is the next destination for the NASCAR iRacing Series – with the sim racers having to intentionally turn right at this track, since Sonoma is a road course! Its a demanding track on both driver skill and setup with the frequent and considerable elevation changes and off and on camber corners, controlling the throttle and the wheel is an art that only the best will master this week! Check out iRacingNews next week, to see who comes out on top at Sonoma.